Disclaimer: all Superman and Smallville characters belong to DC Comics and Gough & Millar. No Infringement's intended.

Author: Lexie

Homepage: Lillian´s Child ( check my profile for the link )

A/N: This fic helped me won the Murder Mystery Contest organised by DTS in April 2008.

A/N2: the starting point of this fic is loosely inspired on a novel I read a long time ago, whose name- unfortunately-I can´t remember.

SHADOWS FROM THE PAST

PROLOGUE

Voices. Raised and angry voices woke her up.

Confused, Chloe Sullivan got out of bed and ran along a long dark corridor towards them. She moved in slow motion as if she were still asleep; her feet heavy with that numbness which seizes our body when it is in repose during slumber. She was disoriented and her heart hammered madly in her chest.

The voices got louder and louder, but the words were still unrecognisable, masked by the heated emotions.

Then, a sudden flash of light blinded her and Chloe was paralysed with terror...

Someone appeared in the shadows. Someone big and imposing was coming her way...

Chloe took one, two, three steps back... and then, there was nothing but blackness, a pitch black which swallowed it all up

A shaky Chloe opened her eyes startled. The chattering of her teeth was the only sound that disrupted the silence of the night. Her lungs were burning and she realised she had been holding her breath. She exhaled and tried to bring the shaking under control. She was covered in sweat and her nightdress clung to her curves like a second skin. She could see the stream of light coming from the bathroom and she calmed down. She always took the precaution of leaving the light in the bathroom on and its door slightly ajar; it was the only way she could sleep. Here eyes roamed the bedroom and couldn´t see anything amiss. She pricked up her ears but she didn´t hear any raised voices. The flat was completely quiet. It was at that moment that she realised she had been dreaming once again; the same recurrent dream.

Chloe swallowed nervously in an attempt to assuage the feeling of loss that had seized her. She closed her eyes to escape from the fear that had made her shrink. Would she ever be able to get rid of that dream?

Some time before, she had sought professional help but doctors had given up; none of them had come up with a solution to put an end to her nightmares. She felt a tremor down her spine, opened her eyes and looked at the alarm clock on her bedside table. It was three o´clock in the morning, but Chloe was certain she wouldn´t be able to get to sleep again, not that night. She tossed the sheet aside, got out of bed, put on her robe and walked out of her room.

The corridor was illuminated by a lamp she always left on on a console table. She had been afraid of the dark ever since childhood and, although she was a grown-up woman now, she hadn´t been able to overcome that weakness yet.

She entered the living-room and switched on her desk lamp. She picked up her notepad and had a look at the information she had jotted down. Her deadline was a week away, but she had the story almost ready on her hard drive. It was an investigative report like the ones she had always loved to write but, for once, it showed the triumph of good. It was a story of courage and determination. Two qualities she admired in a human being.

Chloe remembered the nightmare that had woken her up and shivered again. It hurt her to admit she didn´t have enough courage to face the demons in her dreams, considering she could be so persistent and reckless when doing research for an article in her waking hours.

She turned on her laptop and opened the file she had been working on before going to bed. Her thoroughness and innovative approach to her stories had earned her a reputation in Gotham. Working as a free-lance reporter allowed her to travel frequently and to organise her own timetable. And, above all, it kept her isolated- a fact which she more than welcomed.

The truth of the matter was she found more pleasure in solitude than in the company of anybody else. Chloe sighed. She was aware that her father was worried about her solitary life. Ever since she had been diagnosed with stress, he seemed determined to convince her of the need to socialise more. ´Make new friends. Open up your heart to somebody else, honey. ´ Chloe never argued with him. She knew he meant well but what he didn´t understand was that she wanted the whole package: a husband, a family... someone to love and who could love her in good measure. She didn´t want to live alone, but she only knew how to live in solitude. Opening her heart and trusting other people wasn´t so easy; it was an almost impossible feat for Chloe.

A couple of days before, she had been to her dad´s. He had appeared unusually worried about her well-being, and she had tried to make light of it, saying that with a father like him she had all the love and security she needed. She still remembered the sad look on Gabe´s face on hearing her words.

Chloe sat down on her swivel chair and tried to stop thinking about that conversation. She brought her shaky hands to the key board and resumed her article. Once she was done, she saved the file on the computer and made a back-up copy on a CD, satisfied with the final result. She got up of the chair, stretching and yawning, and ambled to the window surprised to find that it was nearly daybreak. She had been working for close to three hours, but it felt like a mere few minutes.

Suddenly, the phone rang and took her out of her reveries.

¨Hello? ¨

¨Chloe? ¨ said Martha Kent.

Chloe had met her when she entered university and became friends with her son Clark. The Kent widow had been the closest thing to a mother she had ever had. And judging by the tone of Martha´s voice she sounded sad and disconsolate.

¨What´s up, Mrs Kent? ¨asked Chloe.

¨It´s Gabe, sweetie. I´m afraid he´s gone. ¨

¨Gone? Gone where? ¨she echoed before the pregnant silence provided her with an answer she found hard to accept. ¨No, he can´t be, ¨ she added chokingly.

¨I´m so sorry, honey. We believe he died in his sleep in the wee small hours of the morning. The doctor says it was his heart, Chloe. ¨

Early in the morning... her dream... She had woken up overwhelmed by a feeling of fear and loss. Was it a coincidence? Maybe not.

Chloe shut her eyes brimmed with tears. It didn´t matter if it was a coincidence or not because at that moment, for the first time in her life, she was totally, completely alone.